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Subject: Z-Man Games wants YOU! rss

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Steve Zamborsky
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Ohio
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Do you love all kinds of games? Are you a good game teacher? Want to earn games and other perks while having fun and doing what you love in the process?

Well then, Z-Man Games wants you! Z-Man is now recruiting for our newly formed demo group, the Z-Force. Z-Force volunteers agree to demo the Game(s) of the Month with a minimum time commitment every month. Additionally, Z-Force members can visit retail stores that have never heard of us, acting as representatives of Z-Man Games. In exchange, Z-Force members earn credits from their efforts that they can use to obtain games (and not just our games, either!). Basically, the more you do, the more you can earn.

Sound intriguing? Then head to our newly re-vamped website and click on "Join the Z-Force" on the left-hand panel. You'll be directed to a brief webform that details your information and experience with games.

If you have any questions about the program, feel free to ask here or message me directly.

Thanks!
Steve Zamborsky, Z-Force Coordinator
Z-Man Games, Inc.
www.zmangames.com
 
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This sounds like a great idea--count me in!
 
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Mark Crocker
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I dunno about the rest of you, but this sounds more like a job,rather than a spare time hobby. Perhaps I'd better backtrack.

First of all, I own three games published by Z-man, and they are all top quality, A-list titles. I think there is a Z-man game in everyone's future...something good for all tastes, in their catalog, and I wish them well. But this is what the Z-Force concept reminds me of.

When I was in Jr. high school (dating myself...I think it's called middle school now) and high school, every year there was something called a "magazine drive". A company, Publisher's Clearing House, or something similar, would come to the school and set up contests for students to go door to door (or call up the relatives), to sell magazine subscriptions. The school was to earn benefits, and each homeroom that had 100% seller participation, would also earn a prize.

My father, a thoughtful and level headed man, forbid me to participate in these magazine sales campaigns, so needless to say, I was always the one non-partipant in the magazine drive, and I would catch flak from fellow students, and the teachers. When I was in jr. high, I resented my not being allowed to sell magazines, but by the time I was in high school, the reasoning clicked with me, so much so that I was actually proud of being the lone hold out. And this is the reasoning.

The magazine conglomerate was getting students to do a job for them , for FREE, that under any other circumstances, would be a paid job.

OK, demonstrating a good game may not be the same as selling magazine subscriptions, but the rest of the "job" is. The Z-Force description is still pretty vague about what is expected of a member. I'm wondering exactly how many man hours are to be expended before you earn something like a 25% off certificate, or something.

I hope Z-man, doesn't blacklist me, or something like that, because they have some excellent products. I'm just concerned that they are going to get something for nothing, just like the magazine drive guys.

Jeeze, I hate being a crumudgeon/spoil-sport, but sometimes I can't help it.
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Jason Robinette
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As someone who has done volunteer work for many companies, I can say that the monniker of volunteer takes on many different meanings depending on which company is involved.

For Fantasy Flight Games, for example... a few years ago, before their titles really started to take off, their volunteers would receive a copy of every game they published. That became costly, obviously, and they only had one person (himself a volunteer) to keep track of events and make sure there weren't any freeloaders.

Other companies offer far less, some a bit more.

The real problem is having a person in place who can effectively monitor the activities of the representatives... it's tempting for some people to sit back and collect the free swag without doing the work... even if their heart was in the right place.

The definition of volunteer does vary, but most companies realize that it should never be looked at as "free labor" since the benefits these folks give the company in question often merits substantial thanks.

I know Steve and Zev, and I don't think they'd ask for people to do something for nothing (other than a t-shirt) but I will agree that the website is fairly vague.

Trouble is, it kinda HAS to be vague, or the freeloaders will immediately see what they can "get" without doing anything, even if they drop from the program.

Heck, some programs ask you to actually BUY their demo kits and then work off the cost as you demo for them.

I don't know if there's a perfect solution... but I can certainly respect someone's desire to steer clear.

Myself, I know it's a critical component of many of the gaming genres.

Jason
 
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Chris Bailey
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If you have fun doing the demos, then that's payment enough I suppose. For me though, time is valuable and if I have to put in 30 hours working a con to get a couple of games for free, well I just got paid less then $2.00 an hour and I got games that cost the company less then half that. So they got 30 hours of labor for what...$20? I think I'll just buy the games instead.
 
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Marshall Miller
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In reply to Mark's comment, I too was banned from school fund raising campaigns. Instead, my parents asked all of my teachers what teaching materials they needed and donated them directly to the teachers (e.g. foreign language software to the French teachers, arts materials to the art teachers, etc.) or volunteered time as teachers' aids.

More on topic, I think this may be a wasted effort for Z-man. I think most adults lack the time and energy to go and promote games if they don't work for that company. A better strategy might be a promotional offer such as:

If you buy 5+ of the same game you get a free promotional package with some freebees (buttons, a shirt, stickers, promo expansion, etc.) This way you could get them as Xmas gifts and have fun teaching all your friends to play.

Or, to connect it more so to Mark's comment; since most people start their love of gaming early, offer a discount to 5+ games purchased if they are addressed directly to your local school's after school program!!! (Assuming that they are purchased directly from the corporate website.)
 
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Steve Zamborsky
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Ohio
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Mark: It's understandable that you'd be skeptical, especially if the specifics aren't covered. So I'll detail a bit more what the program's all about.

We ask that our volunteers demo a minimum of four hours every month to stay an active member of the Z-Force. You can certainly do more, if you want. Every hour that you demo (and is documented by a retailer) earns you credits called Z-Bucks. There are other ways to earn Z-Bucks as well, but the main way is to demo.

We know that people who volunteer for us should be compensated accordingly (i.e., we don't expect you to do work for free). I developed this program with that in mind (I'd been on a number of demo teams prior to this).

At any time during your tenure, you can turn in Z-Bucks to get free Z-Man games. The program is tier-based, meaning that even if you redeem some Z-Bucks for our games, a running total is kept for every member and you can progress to higher levels at a certain point, which give you greater benefits (turning in Z-Bucks for other companies' games, for example, or being invited to certain cons with some or all of the expenses paid, etc.).

Z-Man is a small company and this Z-Force Program is still relatively new to us (and we're still learning things as it progresses!). However, we wanted to make sure from its inception that Z-Force members would be fairly compensated for helping us out and that we would never attempt to take advantage of anyone.

If you have any other questions or comments, please let me know.

Thanks!
Steve Zamborsky, Z-Force Coordinator
Z-Man Games, Inc.
www.zmangames.com


Crockerdile wrote:
OK, demonstrating a good game may not be the same as selling magazine subscriptions, but the rest of the "job" is. The Z-Force description is still pretty vague about what is expected of a member. I'm wondering exactly how many man hours are to be expended before you earn something like a 25% off certificate, or something.

I hope Z-man, doesn't blacklist me, or something like that, because they have some excellent products. I'm just concerned that they are going to get something for nothing, just like the magazine drive guys.

Jeeze, I hate being a crumudgeon/spoil-sport, but sometimes I can't help it.
 
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Eric
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Got a question about the Z-Force, I know that there is a guy in my area that is already member of the Z-Force (and he does a great job teaching the games!) do you want to keep only 1 person per area or more than one?
 
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JP LaChance
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I signed up, heck I have coached hockey & student taught in schools and not gotten anything for it, in some cases not even a thankyou. This sounds like a fair program to me.

JP
Madison, WI
 
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Michael Jordal
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I joined, but I don't have a local retailer to demo at. I just have a weekly board games event at my home, and usually about once a month I have an event at a local venue like a coffee house.
 
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Tony Chen
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Basically it´s a job but instead of getting paid with cash, you get paid with games. Working at (Bay Area) minimum wage for one day, you earn roughly $7/hour x 8hours = $56, which is enough to buy most games. How many hours of Z-Force work do I have to do to get enough credit for one game? And why isn´t this information already made clear/available?

On your website it says you are taking game submissions. But how much are you paying to game designers for their submissions once you decide to publish them?
 
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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Geez! If you don't want to do it, don't do it. They put a notice in the press release forum and are totally up front about what they're looking for and what they're offering in exchange.

I'm not participating, but I can think of reasons why others might. Maybe someone enjoys doing it. Maybe it gives someone an excuse to spend some time at the game store and meet some people. Maybe it helps people bring others into the hobby.

No need to jump all over someone because you aren't interested.

Geoff
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Martin Villemaire
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Aljovin wrote:
Got a question about the Z-Force, I know that there is a guy in my area that is already member of the Z-Force (and he does a great job teaching the games!) do you want to keep only 1 person per area or more than one?


Ahaha! That would be me And yes, I'll be at your store tomorrow (missed out last week due to GenCon)

I've been demoing for Z-Man for the past 3-4 months. A couple of points I'd like to make:

1- It's been a lot of fun, and I've gotten to try games I would have wanted to try anyways
2- The stores are really greatful for the help and have been super-accomodating. It's nice to know that I'm helping my local gaming community thrive
3- I've already received Reef Encounter, No Thanks and Fairy Tale for free, with lots of points left on my balance. These are all games I would have purchased regardless.
4- Zev and Steve are two of the nicest, approachable, amicable, cool guys you will meet in the gaming industry.


And to all the grumblers -- if you're only in it for the money, then obviously this isn't for you. In my mind this is similar to another BGG running debate, online stores vs FLGS. Obviously I stand firmly on the FLGS side of things!
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Brian Bankler
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Crockerdile wrote:

The magazine conglomerate was getting students to do a job for them , for FREE, that under any other circumstances, would be a paid job.


I don't see moral equivalence between Z-Man dealing with willing adults and a company negotiating with schools to cajole/pressure/force its underage charges to sell.

I'll admit that they look similar, on a transactional level.

It may be a bad deal, but the people doing it don't think so. Most of us Evangelizing games all the time "for free." Earning swag for doing what you were going to do anyway strikes me as a good deal. (Most kids don't sell magazines for fun).

From what I see, I don't think I'll participate since I'd have to demo a game of their choice, and not mine. But that's just me.
 
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Mark Taraba
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Z-Force wrote:
..agree to demo the Game(s) of the Month with a minimum time commitment every month.


That's the thing that stopped me. I love Reef Encounter and Zepter. I would be willing to teach people these games at retailers. But I don't want to have to push a game that I don't like to stay in some program. I'm not a salesman by trade and don't posess the ability to sell things I don't like.
 
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Simon Hunt
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drunkenKOALA wrote:
On your website it says you are taking game submissions. But how much are you paying to game designers for their submissions once you decide to publish them?

This is a totally separate issue -- it has nothing to do with the Z-Force program.

How much game designers are paid for their game designs is (as far as I know) dealt with on a case by case basis.
 
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Stephen Groves
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I just think it's a great offer. If you are into games and are always trying to convince others how great games are then this lets you get rewarded with something you love to do something you do anyway. If you are not one of these people then don't do it.
 
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Shawn Low
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Ahem, people out of North America need not apply.
 
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Paul Sauberer
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Crockerdile wrote:
I dunno about the rest of you, but this sounds more like a job,rather than a spare time hobby. Perhaps I'd better backtrack.



I hope Z-man, doesn't blacklist me, or something like that, because they have some excellent products. I'm just concerned that they are going to get something for nothing, just like the magazine drive guys.

Jeeze, I hate being a crumudgeon/spoil-sport, but sometimes I can't help it.


I hope that you have been very careful if you have ever introduced a new game to your gaming group. If you aren't ever-vigilant one of the players might enjoy the game enough to go out and buy his/her own copy.

That would mean that (Horror of Horrors!) that the game company got something for nothing out of your hard work! In fact, it's even worse than that, if you bought the copy you brought to the table. You actually paid your own good money to do demo work for the publisher! Oh, the sleepless nights that could cause!
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Andrew H
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I'm interested but I have some questions:

Do the demos have to be run at game stores?
I could reach more gamers by demoing at my games group.

Do you have to buy demo copies? Or is that the point of demoing at the stores-you use their copy?
I only own one Z-Man game and I have played 1.5 hours of Fairy Tale at a time but that was when it was new and it would get stale.

Do we have to be North American to do this as mentioned above by my Australian compatriate?
 
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Melissa
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Steve: check your geekmail.

We are about to launch into a month of game demos at the Melbourne Museum, the largest museum in the southern hemisphere.

Probably outside the scope of what you were planning for Z-force, but we may be able to help you out.
 
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Martin Villemaire
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melissa wrote:
Steve: check your geekmail.

We are about to launch into a month of game demos at the Melbourne Museum, the largest museum in the southern hemisphere.

Probably outside the scope of what you were planning for Z-force, but we may be able to help you out.


Two words:

PRIMORDIAL SOUP!!! goo
 
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Zev Shlasinger
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taraba wrote:
Z-Force wrote:
..agree to demo the Game(s) of the Month with a minimum time commitment every month.


That's the thing that stopped me. I love Reef Encounter and Zepter. I would be willing to teach people these games at retailers. But I don't want to have to push a game that I don't like to stay in some program. I'm not a salesman by trade and don't posess the ability to sell things I don't like.


***Allow me to say a few things:

1) Regarding Games of the Month - those are games we would like a focus on if possible, for several reasons, but you are NOT required to demo those games or only those games that month. You can demo ANY game of mine that you like as part of the program. The whole idea of the program is to expose stores and players to the games.

2) The whole program comes from my work managing CCG demo volunteers - almost every CCG has such a program and it works. So I wanted to apply it to card and board games. Steve and I also discussed that the rewards for doing this would be different and came up with the current program. One of the cool things about it is it is one of two (I think I only know of one other one) programs that gives you a chance to get games NOT published by me.

3) Demo copies are sent to the store for free - you don't buy them. This gives the FLGs the ability to continue to demo the game on their own after your demo should it strike a chord with the owners/employees/patrons.

4) We do want to go outside North America - the only sticking point is the cost of shipping demo games to thesep laces. It costs a lot of money, and if the games get lost, then I got to resend, etc. It adds up. So we wanted to give it a shot in NA first, see how it goes, then expand as needed. If you really feel your store could seriously use the help and that demo copies will work, contact us and we'll see what can be done.

Thanks for listening,

Zev Shlasinger, President
Z-Man Games, Inc.
www.zmangames.com
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Steve Zamborsky
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Thanks for all of the positive comments, everyone! Some individual replies follow:

To Aljovin: Please apply anyway; we select members based on location, proximity to retailers, population and a few other factors. We invite everyone to apply.


To drunkenKOALA: To simplify things, you get 1 Z-Buck per hour of demoing. To figure out the "cost" in Z-Bucks of our games, multiply the retail price by 0.12. Once you've moved up a level, you can begin redeeming your Z-Bucks for other companies' games at a rate of MSRP * 0.15. And at a further level, you can use your Z-Bucks for special requests/hard to find games/Essen only releases at a rate of MSRP * 0.20. As far as I know, we're the only demo program around where you can redeem what you've gained for other companies' games; a feature of the Z-Force that I wanted to implement and something we're pretty proud of. We don't have that information on the website because we just wanted a brief overview of the program so people would have an idea of what they're signing up for; the details of the program are given as you're accepted (but we're glad to answer any questions people might have!). As for the game designer/submission question, that's an entirely different issue that I'm not involved in.


To mnv_iii: Thanks for the kind words! We're happy to have you helping us out, Martin. Keep it up and you'll be a Lieutenant in no time!


To Bankler and taraba: It's perfectly understandable why you wouldn't want to join the Z-Force; however, I wanted to point out that not every month is structured this way. Yes, we want to focus on new releases so retailers (and customers) know what's coming out from us. However, you have to do the minimum requirement of four hours for the Game(s) of the Month only; there's no reason why you couldn't schedule demos of Z-Man games you love on top of the minimum requirement. Additionally, we'll have some months that are flexible (such as August) where you can demo whatever you like of ours. Finally, we're always open to suggestions from our members and things are potentially subject to change.


To shawn_low: Believe me, I would love to have an international demo program. Once we start gaining momentum and this becomes a success, we'll look to expand. I still have your application.


To Andrew H: As of right now, we're focusing on retailers and conventions. As we grow and evolve, we hope to include game groups in the mix. Demo copies are provided to the retailers to have on hand for the Z-Forcer (and the retailer, if they feel so inclined) to demo. That's the main reason why we wanted to focus on retailers to start; it provides them a free service, volunteers get credit that they can use to obtain games for themselves, and our games get exposure...everyone wins! I would still apply, Andrew. We want to keep a record of all applicants if/when we branch out internationally.


To melissa: Checked! I've been in contact with Zev and will get back to you as soon as I hear from him.


Whew! Again, thank you all for the questions and kind words. If anyone has any other questions or comments, fire away! I'm here to answer them.

Thanks!
Steve Zamborsky, Z-Force Coordinator
Z-Man Games, Inc.
www.zmangames.com
 
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Steve Zamborsky
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I've heard it said that great minds think alike...

Get out of my head, Zev!
 
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